Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. Game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
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Note: This file will be updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.
What you need to know for Saturday's MLB games
By Mike Sheets
Acquired from the Cleveland Guardians at the trade deadline, Aaron Civale (51% rostered in ESPN leagues) will make his Tampa Bay Rays debut Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Civale has been lights-out over the last month, delivering a 1.45 ERA and 0.80 WHIP across his last six starts. During that stretch, he hasn't surrendered more than two runs in any outing. Against a Tigers offense that owns the second-worst wRC+ (86) in the American League since the All-Star break, Civale looks like a top-tier streaming option.
Since coming off the injured list, Kenta Maeda has provided a big boost to the Minnesota Twins rotation, posting a 2.63 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 12.2 K/9 in seven starts. Fantasy managers haven't caught on, though, as he's still a free agent in nearly 80% of ESPN leagues. On Saturday, Maeda matches up against the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose offense has struggled over the past 30 days (87 wRC+, .304 wOBA). Stream him if he's available.
Steven Matz (9%) has been better than you think of late. The left-hander rejoined the St. Louis Cardinals rotation back in early July, and since then he's produced a 1.69 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning across five starts. In his past three outings, he has allowed just one run over 17 total frames. While it's hard to project this type of sustained success for the veteran lefty, he draws an extremely favorable home matchup versus the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. Away from Coors Field, the Rockies have one of the worst offenses in baseball, ranking bottom-five in MLB with an 83 wRC+ and a 26.5% K%.
Edouard Julien (9%) has been an underrated fantasy producer for the Minnesota Twins. Dating back to June 25, the rookie is slashing .341/.430/.624 with 6 homers, 10 RBIs and 15 runs. Julien has done most of his damage this season against right-handed pitching (.303/.397/.564), and Saturday he matches up with right-hander Ryne Nelson, who is allowing a .363 wOBA to lefty swingers. Fire Julien up as a streamer if you have a void in your middle infield.
With Joan Adon toeing the rubber for the Washington Nationals on Saturday, we could see the Cincinnati Reds offense put up a crooked number. Not only has the right-hander been tattooed by left-handed batters this year (.305/.357/.511), but he will also be pitching in one of baseball's most hitter-friendly environments. Lefty hitters Joey Votto (10%), Will Benson (5%) and TJ Friedl (13%) all look like prime streaming options, while righties Matt McLain (51%) and Christian Encarnacion-Strand (13%) are in play, too.
Starting pitcher rankings for Saturday
Bullpen usage watch for Saturday
By Todd Zola
The Cincinnati Reds summoned Alexis Diaz for the top of the ninth and asked to preserve a 3-3 tie with the Washington Nationals. He delivered, fanning two with 15 pitches. Since Diaz was working with three days of rest, he came out for the 10th. Unfortunately, things did not go as well. Diaz was charged with the loss after yielding three runs and his offense was unable to generate anything in the bottom of the frames. Diaz tossed 32 total pitches, which is hefty enough to sideline him today even though he was well rested. Lucas Sims and Ian Gibaut have been sharing the setup duties, with Sims higher in the pecking order, but Gibaut being slightly more effective. Newly acquired Sam Moll is also in the mix and with eight punch outs over his last 3 1/3 innings; he could be the best arm of the trio.
The Houston Astros are battling the Texas Rangers for the AL West crown and a playoff bye, so they did not hesitate to use closer Ryan Pressly with a 7-3 lead in Yankee Stadium. Pressly delivered, but he burned 22 pitches, which comes on top of 16 on Wednesday. The combined 38 probably renders Pressly unavailable for Game 3 in the Bronx. This is one of the reasons Houston re-acquired Kendall Graveman as they now have another experienced arm for high-leverage scenarios. Graveman probably would have pitched the ninth inning last night, but he recorded 25 pitches on Thursday in the first game of the series with the New York Yankees. WIth yesterday off, Graveman should be able to serve as Dusty Baker's closer today.
Like Pressly, David Bednar was asked to protect a four-run lead last night with the Pittsburgh Pirates ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4. That's how the game ended, with Bednar retiring the side in order with 18 pitches. While 18 is sufficient to be flagged for questionable availability, Bednar was working on two days' rest and usage patterns this season indicate he'll be ready if needed today.
Working for the first time in five days, Emmanuel Clase converted his 29th save last night, tossing 18 pitches. Like with Bednar, that trips the alarm to be listed here, but his track record suggests he'll answer the call if required today.
Best sub-50% rostered hitters for Saturday
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing and lots more.
Jake Fraley (CIN, LF -- 39%) vs. Joan Adon
TJ Friedl (CIN, LF -- 13%) vs. Joan Adon
Joey Votto (CIN, 1B -- 10%) vs. Joan Adon
Jorge Polanco (MIN, 2B -- 43%) vs. Ryne Nelson
Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CIN, 3B -- 13%) vs. Joan Adon
Ryan O'Hearn (BAL, 1B -- 5%) vs. Tylor Megill
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Saturday
Max Muncy (LAD, 3B -- 92%) at Blake Snell
C.J. Cron (LAA, 1B -- 54%) vs. George Kirby
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Prop of the Day
Ryne Nelson Over/Under 15.5 pitching outs (-130/+100).
THE BAT sees Nelson putting up 14.8 Pitching Outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 37.7% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $24.56.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
The wind projects to be blowing in from CF at 10-mph in this game, the 2nd-best of the day for hurlers.
Ryne Nelson has a reverse platoon split and is fortunate enough to be facing 6 opposite-handed hitters today.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The Minnesota Twins have been the 7th-unluckiest offense in the league this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to perform better going forward
Emil Jimenez profiles as a Hitters Umpire and is expected to be calling balls and strikes today.
The No. 10 park in MLB for boosting walks, per The Bat, is Target Field.
A correlation exists between high heat and more offense (and fewer Ks), and this game is expected to have the 5th-hottest temperature of all games on the slate today at 83°.